December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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Expected Council Action
Council activity on Darfur in December is expected to include:

  • briefings by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and by Under Secretary-General John Holmes on the humanitarian situation in early December;
  • possible consultations on the deployment of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) expires on 31 December, by which time transfer to UNAMID is required under resolution 1769;
  • attention to the challenges facing the Sirte peace talks; and
  • the interim report of the Panel of Experts to the Sanctions Committee, due by 27 December.

At press time it was unclear whether members may consider formal action on UNAMID, the humanitarian situation and the peace talks.

(A report of the Human Rights Council group of experts on Darfur is expected. The group’s mandate expires on 15 December.)

Key Recent Developments
The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to be extremely dire. Fighting involving government forces and rebels reportedly persists unabated, including an attack against an oil field outside Darfur. There were also reports of forced relocation of civilians and raids into camps by the government, obstruction of assistance and increased inter-communal fighting, reportedly with Khartoum’s support.

Khartoum announced a unilateral ceasefire during the talks, which opened on 27 October. However, the Secretary-General noted that clashes continued and soon after two government helicopter gunships fired missiles in western Darfur.

At a Council briefing on 27 November, UN Envoy Jan Eliasson underlined the challenges facing the talks, including absence of key rebel commanders, noting that the mediation team will now focus on rebel consultations currently underway and selecting civil society representatives. He urged a distinction between rebels engaged in the process and those that reject it, and that “all parties must be aware that undermining the process comes at a price.” He signalled reluctance from a rebel group and Khartoum to facilitate civil society and displaced persons’ participation and underlined Khartoum’s responsibility to uphold security and justice, including cooperation with the ICC.

Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno also briefed the Council on the status of UNAMID’s deployment on 27 November. He warned that the mission was at a crossroads.

  • Khartoum had not yet accepted a list of non-African troop contributors, reportedly including Thailand (with a rapid reaction unit), Nepal (with a special forces unit), Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Guéhenno underscored the need for those units for an early display of robustness. (Khartoum opposes non-African contributions apart from technical support. Rebels appear to object to the Chinese contingent, complaining of Chinese sales of arms to Sudan and involvement in Sudan’s oil sector.) There are also challenges regarding authorisation for night flights, use of airstrips and land, and the status of forces agreement.
  • There were no pledges for key mobility assets, including helicopters.

Guéhenno reportedly noted that there was a dilemma since a force, even without some assets, could make a limited difference, but if it “was to know humiliation in the early stages of its deployment, then it would be very hard to recover.”

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee

The Sanctions Committee discussed a follow up on the Panel of Experts’ recommendations, but no far-reaching action has apparently been adopted. In early November, the Committee held discussions at the request of Qatar on the possibility of sanctions against rebels who refuse to attend the Sirte talks. (Please see Council Dynamics below for more details.)

Options include:

  • leaving UNAMID’s deployment issues to the Secretariat, or actively managing the issues, perhaps including a warning that delays in UNAMID’s deployment are unacceptable;
  • a decision that Council members would actively support the Secretariat in encouraging generation of aviation and transport assets, perhaps through the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations;
  • a statement supporting the peace talks, followed up by regular consultations with the mediation team;
  • signalling the possibility of sanctions and/or actively discussing a spectrum of measures, including targeted sanctions, a strengthened arms embargo and aviation-related measures;
  • reminding the parties on the need to cooperate with the ICC under resolution 1593; and
  • pressing for a ceasefire.

Key Issues
The key challenge now appears to be how to ensure that the peace talks are successful. Key issues include:

  • ensuring substantive rebel participation and unity, as well as that of civil society, the government (given north-south tensions) and Arab communities;
  • reaching a ceasefire;
  • deterring attempts to influence the talks through force or obstruction; and
  • negotiation modalities, notably balancing timing and participation, and substance (including land and relationship with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA).

A parallel issue is ensuring that peacekeeping deployments proceed successfully. This raises the immediate question of how to respond to:

  • Khartoum’s current phase of reluctance to cooperate; and
  • lack of military-asset contributions, including managing the risks that lack of robustness may create for UNAMID, bearing in mind dangerous peacekeeping precedents in that regard.

Other issues are:

  • coordination between the AU and the UN, and with deployments in Chad and the Central African Republic;
  • funding decisions from the General Assembly;
  • UNAMID’s unparalleled management, infrastructure, logistical, security and environmental challenges; and
  • potential differences of view on UNAMID’s mandate to protect civilians.

A major issue for the Council is therefore whether to become more engaged in managing those challenges. A consequential issue is whether and when to resort to sanctions and against whom.

On justice and accountability, the key issues are when to address Khartoum’s refusal to cooperate with the ICC, and whether Council inaction may send counterproductive signals.

Council Dynamics
Concern regarding UNAMID’s deployment increased, particularly after Guéhenno’s briefing. The US, the UK, France and some others seem increasingly impatient with Khartoum’s perceived obstructions to UNAMID. China, Russia, Qatar, Indonesia and others continue to hesitate about criticising Khartoum and argue for continuing dialogue with the government.

There is also concern with the pace of deliberations on UNAMID’s funding, and some—such as the US and the UK—seem willing to work bilaterally on UNAMID’s military-asset shortages.

Most seem agreed on the need for encouraging the various rebel commanders to attend the talks. Some seem concerned that pushing too fast risked repeating the mistakes in the 2005-2006 Abuja talks. The possibility of new sanctions against spoilers remains of interest, but some (including some African members) apparently feel that this may be unhelpful for the talks at this time. Others seem to believe that additional names (including from the government) would need to be considered in keeping a balance among the various targeted sanctions criteria under resolution 1591. It is unclear whether members will propose formal action.

On justice and accountability, most seem sympathetic to the recent signals from the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, on the negative effects of perceived lack of Council support for the Court, as well as to the synergies between justice and peace bearing in mind precedents elsewhere. European members in particular will likely continue to signal support for the ICC, but concrete proposals seemed unclear at press time. China, Russia, South Africa, Congo, Qatar and Indonesia seem sympathetic to the government’s preference for domestic processes.

Underlying Problems
On 31 October, the Council renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in resolution 1784, including strong messages on the CPA’s implementation and its linkages with the political process in Darfur.

(Eliasson and the AU Special Envoy, Salim A. Salim, also recently underscored that any Darfur agreement “will need to be implemented in parallel” with the CPA, and that “there cannot be peace in Darfur without a comprehensive peace throughout Sudan.”)

It seems that north-south negotiations on the CPA’s implementation have not made much progress, particularly regarding border issues and Abyei. Tensions continued, including a call to arms from Khartoum to former irregular militia.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1779 (28 September 2007) renewed the mandate of the sanctions Panel of Experts.
  • S/RES/1769 (31 July 2007) established UNAMID.
  • S/RES/1755 (30 April 2007) extended UNMIS until 31 October 2007.
  • S/RES/1672 (25 April 2006) created a list of four individuals for measures specified in resolution 1591.
  • S/RES/1591(29 March 2005) and 1556 (30 July 2004) imposed sanctions in Darfur.
  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.

Latest Secretary-General’s UNAMID Report


  • S/PV.5784 (27 November 2007) contained the recent briefings by Guéhenno and Eliasson.
  • A/62/540 (8 November 2007) was an ACABQ report on UNAMID funding.
  • S/2007/584 (2 October 2007) contained the latest Panel of Experts’ report.

Other Relevant Facts

UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur

Rodolphe Adada (Congo)

UN and AU Special Envoys

UN: Jan Eliasson (Sweden)
AU: Salim A. Salim (Tanzania)

UNAMID: Size and Cost

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units
  • Expected budget until June 2008: $1.6 billion

UNAMID: Duration

31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2008

AMIS: Size and Composition

  • Total authorised strength: about 10,000 military and 1,500 police
  • Strength as of 23 May 2007: 6,143 military and 1,360 police
  • Key troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal

AMIS: Duration

25 May 2004 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007

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